2011-12 Budget Questions and Answers
Q. How is the school district doing in this tough economy?
A. Four years ago, our district
faced a $651,000 deficit. At that time, we embarked on a course to
return to fiscal security. The cuts we made, the taxes you paid, and the
policies we followed now leave us in a better position to address the
problems that currently face all school districts. We now have a fund
balance and it cannot come at a better time because school aid in New
York State was cut by $1.3 billion in 2011-12. Our district’s state aid
was reduced by $661,201 from 2010-11 to 2011-12. And last year, we saw a
reduction of $429,334 from the previous year.
Q. Are there staff reductions in the budget?
A. Eight teaching positions — six
fulltime and two part-time are eliminated in the budget. Two elementary
teachers resulting in one fewer section in grades two and three. Due to
declining enrollment, class sizes will not significantly increase. One
high school science teacher. One middle school social studies teacher.
That class will be taught by current staff. One half-time secondary
music teacher and one half-time high school business teacher. One
elementary remedial reading teacher. Existing staff will fill the role.
One middle school special education teacher. Existing staff will fill
that role. These changes do not reflect the possibility of teacher
retirements. Should the retirements come in the appropriate areas, these
cuts would not result in people losing their jobs.
Q. Will sports be affected?
A. We regard sports as an arena to
teach important life lessons. Like all areas, from academics to the
arts, we have reduced our sports budget. There will be fewer contests at
the JV level and some teams will be eliminated.
Q. What other cost-saving measures have been taken?
A. Canajoharie contracted with the
central business office at ONC BOCES to handle routine business
functions such as payroll, bills, and bookkeeping. This consolidation of
services saves the district about $150,000 each year. The district
continues to lease buses instead of purchasing them. This enables the
district to pay for buses from a reserve fund rather than having to
Canajoharie buys energy, supplies, and services jointly with other
school districts and municipalities to secure better pricing. Our
schools reduced field trips and froze all unnecessary spending. The
district is exploring every opportunity to save money and reduce
Q. How will the budget impact taxes?
A. The proposed budget will increase
the overall tax levy by no more than four percent. Property tax rates
will vary among the eight townships in the district based on assessments
and equalization rates.
Q. Does this mean my taxes will go up four percent?
A. Not necessarily. We project the
tax levy (the total amount the district raises in taxes) will increase
by no more than four percent — the worst-case scenario with hopes that
the increase will be less. How that increase impacts the tax rates
within each of our eight municipalities will depend on changes in
individual and town-wide assessments and local equalization rates.
Q. Why are taxes rising faster than the cost of living?
A. The steps we have taken to reduce
staff and expenses have actually lowered our expenditures. We will spend
$70,800 less in 2011-12 than we did last year. We could not, however,
fully offset the loss of state aid— even by cutting staff and programs
and using of an additional $367,392 in fund balance. Had we received the
same amount of state aid as we did in the past, we would not have to
Q. What happened to the federal jobs funds?
A. The state of New York didn’t
release the federal education jobs funds to districts until after the
beginning of the 2010-11 fiscal year. We have $265,000 left over from
that which will be applied to 2011-12 budget. This is the last of any
anticipated federal monies.
Q. What are we getting for our investment?
A. We continue to be an area leader.
Our test scores are among the top in the region. Our students are
accepted into some of the nation’s finest universities. Our school
continues to be recognized for its art, music, and athletic programs.
Students who graduate from Canajoharie Central School are prepared for
college, the workplace, and life.
Q. What happens in the future?
A. We do not expect any additional
increases in government aid. In fact, we anticipate operating with less
state aid than we received in any of the past three years. Also, there
is a real possibility the state will adopt a two percent property tax
cap in the near future. Despite those factors, we will continue our
efforts to contain costs, improve efficiencies, and look for new ways to
provide the same quality education residents have come to expect in
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